Devices with "brick" plug in: shorter life plugged in?

The only one I ever had that died was for a ink-jet printer. By then the printer was so old there were no replacements.

Anyway, since then I plug the new printer into a powerstrip that keep shut off except when using the printer.

However, I have a bunch of other devices using these plug-in bricks. Even when not used, they remain warm when plugged in. I assume that this adversly affects their life, but just how much?

Somehow I expect the wear is minimal, but no luck Googling this, so anybody know for sure what the score is on their lifespan left pluged in?

Like 30 years unplugged when not needed, and 20 years live all the time? :smiley:

What do you mean by brick plug-in? Is it like what most laptops come with; the oblong black piece with a cord that you insert into the computer, and a receptacle for one end of another cord, the other end of which goes into the wall?

If so, my computer’s owner manual says the same thing, advising me not to leave it plugged in “for more than eight hours” when I don’t have the computer turned on. While it won’t damage the computer itself, it can harm the battery. Also I’ve learned not to use the battery at all more than I have to, because every charge/discharge cycle erodes a tiny bit of the battery’s ability to accept and hold a charge. In other words, to do that which the battery is supposed to do. If you do use the battery to any significant degree on a daily basis, you can expect it to become nearly useless in about a year’s time. Mine went from a single charge useful life of about four hours to about forty minutes, and the decline comes precipitously towards the end of the year. It’s not a huge deal if you don’t mind just replacing the battery every year or so, but it is unpleasant to realize that you now always have to drag along your AC adapter, and that you can only take your notebook to places where you know you can find a seat next to an AC socket.

No, Spectre,thanks, but the devices I’m talking about have the plug-in transformer at the end of the cord, like your laptop, but run the devices directly without batteries. Therefor, that is not a consideration here, only how long the transformers will last.

Probably they will longer than I will.

The transformers will last 20-30 years, give or take, plugged in. Having them on a power strip probably decreases the lifespan, because they are going through a lot more heat cycles. The wear and tear on a transformer is caused by expansion/contraction, stress caused by the magnetic fields, degradation of insulators, etc etc. It’s difficult to predict failure time for power supplies, but I would bet the vast majority of the time the transformer will last longer than the device itself. And it should be pretty easy to replace the old power supply with a new one, either by getting a different brand with the same specs and plug (or splicing the old plug on).

BTW, electronic items that have normal plugs (almost always) have transformers too, they are just inside the device, and those are on all the time too.

Thanks, ivn, that’s exactly what I wanted to know, and what I hoped. As I’m 82, I guess I need not worry about the 20-year life of those gadgets. :smiley:

I’ll leave 'em plugged and forget about them.

Keep in mind that those transformers suck up power when you are not using the electronic device. The green crowd wants us to unplug them when not in use, to save the environment, and save us money.

Also, a lot of these devices which we call “transformers” are not really built using the the formal terminology electrical device “transformer”, i.e. 2 differently-sized coils linked to exchange voltage vs. current in the ratio of the coil sizes.

20 years ago, most “bricks” or “wall warts” really were transformers. Nowadays, they are mostly switching power supplies. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switching_power_supply

So the points **ivn1188 **made are valid, but less applicable to modern bricks than those of ye olden dayes of 1985.

For the last few years I’ve used notebooks as desktop replacements with an external monitor and keyboard hooked to them. They are on 24-7. I reboot every week or so for OS and program updates. I know it’s not great for the battery, but I don’t care as the unit is not going on the road. It’s less trouble to replace a battery every 3 years than bother shutting the notebook off at night, and on in the morning which takes a big chunk of time for boot up and close down. Plus the notebook battery acts as a built in UPS which has saved my ass more than once in municipal power outages.

BTW in real world terms I’ve found that having the battery charging 24-7 vs cycling does not extend battery life nearly as much as people (or manufs) claim.

Need to re-word statement -

In real world terms I’ve found that having the notebook battery charging 24-7 in desktop replacement mode does not damage or lessen battery life nearly as much as people (or manufs) claim vs cycling. In both scenarios you get about 1.5 to 2.5 years of useful life out of typical battery. In fact in desktop replacement mode you can push out to 3+ years since the unit will operate fine even if the battery is at only a fraction of it’s original capacity since it’s being continuously charged.

At that point I usually sell the unit on ebay and it usually does well vs competing units since the unit is pristine and more or less untouched and the notebook screen has been closed 99.9 % it’s working life. A new battery and the buyer is good to go.

A SMPS also has a transformer. But because it operates at a much higher frequency vs. an old-fashion linear power supply, the transformer is much smaller and lighter.

The most failure-prone component in a SMPS is the switching transistor. High operating temperature (from self-heating and/or high ambient temperature) will shorten its life.

In my experience, the most failure-prone devices are the electrolytic filter capacitors, which tend to be undersized to squeeze them into tiny enclosures.

Yea, those too. Cheap caps can’t handle the inrush current, and they eventually dry out and lose their capacitance due to self heating (due to ESR that is too high).